As we may be approaching another crossroads in the history of the WELS I found the following article in the most recent FIC very interesting.
What does determine success? It would seem to me that we need pastors who proclaim the Word and uphold the sacraments.
For your contemplation and thoughts.... <><
How do you define success?
President Mark Schroeder
By most standards, his ministry was not much of a success.
Becoming a pastor or a missionary was never in his plans. In fact, it was the farthest thing from his mind. Preparing himself for a high-powered secular career, he attended a prestigious university. But sometime later, in spite of his reluctance, his mind was changed. God called him into the ministry.
From almost the beginning he was embroiled in public controversies and disagreements with his co-workers and fellow believers. He never stayed long in any one congregation. No matter where he went, there were those who had no use for him and who did all they could to make his life and work miserable. Often he would leave for his next congregation quickly, painfully aware that not everyone appreciated his efforts.
He never viewed himself as a particularly gifted preacher; he often stated that he was not up to the task either in terms of his speaking skills or his ability to craft well-reasoned and logical arguments. He looked at his own personal failures and remarked to himself and others that he was not worthy to be doing this work. He struggled continually with some kind of ailment, either mental or physical or spiritual, that made his life and work difficult (although he didn’t mention what it was). In one congregation he served, some of the members reinforced his views of himself, making it clear that they much preferred the pastor who followed him.
Throughout his ministry disagreements with co-workers would continue. They would argue and disagree about the strategy and direction that the ministry should take. Sometimes the disagreements were harsh and personal. Some of his closest friends and co-workers actually abandoned him when he needed them most.
One congregation seemed to fall apart shortly after he left, with members becoming tolerant of open immoral behavior, quarreling with each other, and easily adopting teachings and doctrines that were not true.
In the end, he died alone, and the world did not much notice.
His was not a very successful ministry -- unless you measure “success” in ministry by other standards. The pastor and missionary whose career had little going for it on the surface was, in fact , the greatest missionary that this world has seen. This pastor, judged to be a failure by any human standards, was the Apostle Paul.
Paul would agree that his personal abilities and accomplishments were few and far between. But he did not – nor should we -- measure the success of his ministry in those terms. This was the man who recognized that the words he preached were not his words; they were the words of God himself. He recognized that the power of his message was not in himself, but in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had no desire for his ministry to be measured in terms of human glory or accomplishment ; his was a ministry of the cross, proclaiming that God’s way of saving people through the cross, while foolish to the world, was nothing less than the wisdom and power and love of God. Paul’s purpose was not to meet the “felt needs” of people, but to lead them to see their real need: the need for forgiveness and redemption from a Savior who bled and died on the cross. His mission was not to make the church grow in terms of numbers; his mission was to pummel hardened sinners with God’s law in all its condemning force, and to follow with the precious news of forgiveness bought and paid for with the blood of the Son of God. He knew that his role was to plant the seed with the Word of God and that others would water the seed the same Word. But his confidence rested in knowing that it was God and God alone who would make it grow.
What kind of pastor do you want to serve as the shepherd of your congregation? A powerful and dynamic speaker who draws people by the sheer force of his personality? Someone with fantastic organizational skills? Someone who is up on all the latest techniques for connecting with people? Someone who seems to be “successful?” Or would you prefer someone like the Apostle Paul: always preaching Christ, always pointing to the cross, always demonstrating a love for souls by faithful proclamation of law and gospel?
Success, I suppose, all depends on how you define it.